Nuon Chea Lawyer Called in Kickbacks Probe

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan said Tuesday he had summoned a legal consultant assisting in the defense of Brother Number Two Nuon Chea for questioning as part of a preliminary investigation into alleged kickbacks at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Andrew Ianuzzi, a US criminal de­fense lawyer assisting Nuon Chea’s two lead defenders Michiel Pestman and Victor Koppe, is to appear at the court Thursday afternoon, Sok Kalyan said.

“I will have to ask the plaintiff first and then summon the defense,” the deputy prosecutor said, adding that he did not yet know whom he would summon next.

The three foreign lawyers were threatened with legal action by the tri­­bunal’s Cambodian judges after lodging a complaint with the Phnom Penh court Jan 9 in which they called for an investigation of kickback allegations at the court.

The complaint named Cabinet Minister Sok An, tribunal Director of Administration Sean Visoth and the tribunal’s former Chief of Per­sonnel Keo Thyvuth as people of in­terest to the investigation.

If kickbacks for jobs are proved at the tribunal, it could jeop­ardize the fair trial rights of their client, the lawyers said.

Ianuzzi said Tuesday that due to Cambodia’s lack of an anticorruption law, witness protection programs and a comprehensive penal code, he was not optimistic that a local investigation would get to the bottom of the kickbacks matter.

But an inconclusive investigation should not be seen as absolving any potential suspects of wrongdoing, he said.

“We’re certainly going to be on guard against any attempt to whitewash the investigation,” he said.

A preliminary investigation of kickbacks completed last year by the UN’s Office of Internal Over­sight Ser­vices reportedly called for a full investigation. However, citing treaty protections, the UN has de­clined to share its findings with the Nuon Chea team.

“As a lawyer with strong views on due process, I’ll certainly have lots to say on what I think should be done,” Ianuzzi said of his Thurs­day ap­point­ment with the deputy prosecutor.

“We’re hoping this will be the first of many interviews [the deputy pro­se­­cutor] is going to conduct,” he added.

Nuon Chea Lawyer Summoned in Kickbacks Probe

 

 

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